CHOKEPOINTS

Millions more to be spent on studying high-speed rail between Washington, B.C.

Jul 27, 2018, 5:33 AM | Updated: 8:13 am
High speed rail, Cascadia rail,...
Could a high speed rail work in Washington? (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The vision of traveling from Seattle to Portland or Vancouver in about an hour is appealing enough to pump millions more into studying a high-speed train.

Chokepoints: Federal Way light rail project is millions over budget

On Thursday, the Province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and Microsoft announced they will contribute $750,000 toward studying a high-speed line. That’s in addition to the $750,000 the Washington State Legislature already approved for the study, raising the total to $1.5 million.

“It could be a game changer,” Washington DOT spokesperson Janet Matkin said.

The study will build on the analysis for a new 250 mph transportation system done in 2017. It was promoted by Gov. Jay Inslee and was a product of the efforts of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, a cross-border coalition of business, academic, and government.

The continued study will include a more in-depth business case analysis. WSDOT will look at potential ridership, revenue, placement, etc. The state will consider financing options as well. Matkin says high-speed rail could be an opportunity for a public-private partnership.

It’s likely a high-speed rail system will require new infrastructure. Our current rail system can’t handle additional trains, or the proposed 250 mph speed, Matkin said.

Though the idea of sitting in a train traveling at 250 mph may be foreign to anyone that hasn’t traveled outside the U.S. before, it’s been done in other countries for years, Matkin said.

And anyone worried about another derailment should remember that positive train control — the technology that helps prevent such incidents — is expected to be active on all rail lines in the country by the end of the year. Well before the high-speed train service would be available.

The study is expected to be complete by July 2019.

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Millions more to be spent on studying high-speed rail between Washington, B.C.